Herink, a three-year starter for the Bucs’ football team prior to this season, came in the third quarter and rallied the team from a three-touchdown deficit to a 29-27 win over Furman at Greene Stadium.
In his limited action, Herink completed 9 of 14 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown. He completed a fourth-down conversion to Kobe Kelley on the final drive and a 1-yard pass to Matt Thompson with 2:23 left for the tying touchdown.
“This was the first time in my college career I had been a backup and the first couple of weeks it was hard to know how to manage that role,” Herink said. “I still prepared like I would as a starter and it came into play tonight. I knew if I got my opportunity again I would make some plays. The good Lord willing, it happened and my offensive line protected where we made some great plays. It was fun to be a part of.”
ETSU linebacker Dylan Weigel then hit Furman running back Darius Morehead in the end zone for a safety with 2:10 left and a 29-27 lead for the Bucs (3-1, 2-0) Southern Conference). The defense came through again on a final possession, allowing just one first down before ending the game.
“They had been going to the draw all game and I figured they would there,” Weigel said of the safety. “It was a good call and I have to give it to the guys up front. It was a good defensive effort all the way around and it just happened I was there to make the play.”
Coming off a long lightning delay at the half, the Paladins (0-3, 0-1) had touchdown runs of 14 yards from Devin Wynn and 14 yards from Morehead to take a 27-6 lead. ETSU coach Randy Sanders definitely felt his team still had a chance and made the decision for Herink to replace Logan Marchi.
“I knew we still had time, but we couldn’t waste any opportunities,” Sanders said. “Time was starting to get short, but we had the ability to come together. Austin came in and made a couple of plays. Boy, the team sure fed off that. Once he did that, everyone started playing better.”
Herink immediately led the Bucs down the field on a nine-play, 93-yard scoring drive. His 52-yard pass play to Keith Coffee highlighted the drive, which was capped by Quay Holmes’ 2-yard touchdown run.
It was the Bucs’ longest drive of the season and the first time all game they had converted a third down.
Herink, who passed for 434 yards against Furman the previous season, completed a 54-yard pass to Anthony Spagnoletti two drives later. Holmes ran for his second touchdown, this one 12 yards to pull the Bucs to within 27-20.
Herink continued to work his magic, leading to the game-tying drive.
Earlier in the game, Furman had taken a 13-6 lead in the first half with a touchdown run by Keeland Dierks and field goals of 26 and 30 yards by Grayson Adkins. The Bucs stayed within a score thanks to field goals of 32 and 35 yards by J.J. Jerman.
Holmes had 22 rushes for 102 yards to lead ETSU on the ground. Marchi was 8-of-17 passing for 71 yards and the Bucs piled up 377 yards of total offense.
Tremond Ferrell had 12 tackles with two sacks and Weigel had nine tackles.